Geneva honors several at annual meeting

Authored by Jim Langham on May 5, 2010

Several local businesses and individuals were honored at Geneva’s annual Chamber of Commerce meeting on Monday evening. Jay Studebaker was presented with a plaque honoring his Cardinal Electric as the “Business of the Year Award.”
The “Industry of the Year” Award recognized EPC (Elkhart Products), which is celebrating its 41st year in Geneva. The company established its Geneva location in 1969.
Russ Flueckiger received recognition as the, “Citizen of the Year.” Flueckiger quipped how he had originally come from Berne and his wife, Susie (Bixler), had come from Geneva.
“Back in those days there was a little rivalry between the two communities,” said Flueckiger in humor. “I would like to thank everybody for this award. We really love living in Geneva and raising our family here. It is a wonderful community to live in.”
Former popular schoolteacher Sara Briggs, wife of lifetime businessman Jim Briggs, was honored with this year’s, “Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Penny Briggs, daughter-in-law and presenter of the award, had emotion in her voice as she lauded Briggs for her teaching, community involvement, and big heart as a family strength.
“She is always working behind the scenes,” said Penny Briggs. “You can find her working at the cabin, and the library. She still collects books and takes them to Amish schools and they use them. Students still call her and ask her for advice.”
“A Jefferson Warrior married a Geneva Cardinal after I chased him for eight years,” said Sara Briggs. “Thank you all for this. Geneva is a great place to live.”
Ken Brunswick, local representative for the Department of Natural Resources, reported that property in the Loblolly Marsh project now totals 2,284 acres, including public and private land restored.
“This is primarily flood plain. This all started in 1992 and 1993 through funds raised from the Indiana Heritage Trust Funds and Wetlands Preservation Funds,” said Brunswick. “We began with 143 acres in the Loblolly Marsh in 1993. Now, we have all of this land restored, including five miles of trails.
“By purchasing the flood plain, we’ve been able to restore trees,” continued Brunswick. “Anytime you put trees in a flood plain, those trees start holding water. Water that is held will not come downstream to Geneva and Bluffton.”
Doug Milligan, representing the South Adams Trails organization, said that his organization is currently zeroing in on three miles of trail connecting Berne and Geneva in the former railroad bed, and is also focusing on restoration of the Ceylon Covered Bridge.
“This trail is within range of three state historic sites, Ceylon Covered Bridge, downtown Geneva, and the Limberlost Historic Site,” said Milligan. “It passes Ceylon, Snow Cemetery, the site of the old railroad bridge and water refueling tower, and ends at the Lehman Park in Berne”
He noted that grant money from the Indiana Department of Transportation will support renovation of the trail project in the near future.
Milligan noted that the ultimate goal is a trail triangle stretching from Geneva to Decatur, Decatur to Bluffton, and Bluffton back to Geneva.
“I won’t see that in my lifetime, but it’s exciting to be a part of the start of all of this,” said Milligan.
Both Chamber president Keith Muhlenkamp and Geneva Proud president Penny Briggs noted that improvement of the War Memorial Park in downtown Geneva is a current priority for their groups. Briggs noted that Geneva Proud is currently working to beautify the town with flowers for the summer.
Muhlenkamp noted that the Chamber is looking forward to its annual golf outing, with proceeds from that outing assisting with decorations and Christmas lights.
A report from Randy Lehman, director of the Limberlost Historic Site, noted that aspirations are high on the construction of the new Limberlost Welcome Center. Lehman indicated that $75,000 of $115,000 needed to begin construction has been obtained, with $40,000 more needed in order to get things going.

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